Attempts are being made to introduce performance-related pay for managers at WSCC. This could have implications for all staff, including those on NJC pay.
UNISON members at WSCC in HAY, Public Health/Agenda for Change and SMG pay groups have locally determined pay awards. These staff are usually managers and have salaries which are higher than those the NJC pay scale allows for.
Staff in those local pay groups have been written to by WSCC with regard to the pay offer for 2018/19 and 2019/20. As part of that offer they are being asked to vary their employment contracts. The variation would critically: link the cost of living pay award to performance; and link incremental progression to performance (except SMG staff who are appointed on a fixed pay point).
UNISON’s advice for these members is as follows:
- UNISON members are advised to REJECT the variation to your contract.
- UNISON members are advised to read the rest of this news article and then take part in the branch’s consultation on the local pay award.
This advice applies to all staff. If members know staff affected who are not in the union, they are welcome to join us and can take part in the UNISON consultation once they have done so.
In preparation for the 2018/19 local pay award, UNISON approached management several months ago and asked that the offer for consultation be made for 2%. This would match the NJC award applicable to NJC staff from April 2018, reflecting practice in previous years. This would have been an offer of 2% as a cost of living pay award, without any performance-related strings. Management agreed to this approach in writing to UNISON in May.
Between May and now, senior management has changed its mind about the local pay offer. At no point has senior management engaged with UNISON to advise us it had changed its mind on the exchanges in May, or to discuss the details of the new offer. This was despite repeated enquiries from UNISON as to why the consultation on 2% was late.
The variation of contract is substantial. It introduces full Performance Related Pay, without any framework or structure having been discussed or being in place.
Performance is expected to be ‘good’ or ‘exceptional’ to receive a cost of living award or increment. However, these terms are not yet defined. The current appraisal process has 16 assessment points which do not correspond to the above terms. No appeal process is apparent.
Cost of living pay awards are a necessary uplift to allow staff to cope with rising inflation and living costs. Living costs in the South East are some of the highest in the country. It is unreasonable to link a cost of living pay award to performance.
Increments in local government are seen as part of ‘the rate for the job’. They exist because after a number of years an employee gains additional skills, knowledge and experience. Incremental progression should not be linked to an arbitrary definition of performance. The letter from the employer makes clear that the definition of ‘good’ and ‘exceptional’ performance may vary from time to time. This could therefore change according to the budgetary position of the authority.
Even if members are at the top of their scale now, this is still relevant. Staff often change grade either through promotion or organisational change, of which there is much.
It is unclear if this is a meaningful consultation or not. WSCC appears to be preparing for an individualised approach to pay, rather than the collective implementation of a pay award. It appears possible that staff will be on a range of individualised pay points according to whether or not they accept the variation of contract, and if they do, performance thereafter. This is akin to a pay system in a private company.
UNISON is seeking legal advice on the offer of variation of contract that has been made.
Concerns for NJC staff also
UNISON is concerned that not only is this proposed variation of contract bad for staff on localised pay bargaining, it is bad for staff on NJC pay also. It indicates that the employer may have already decided on a course of action with regard to performance-related increments for NJC staff, when it had agreed to discuss its position with UNISON in the Autumn after an aborted attempt to introduce performance-related increments in March, which we reported on to members at the time.
There is now a period of consultation which has been extended until Friday 14th September. UNISON needs to hear the view of all its members who are now being consulted on this local pay offer.
It will be essential that – despite the holiday period – we hear from as many members as possible so we can reflect your views in the consultation.
Members’ comments will be treated in the strictest confidence and not attributed to them in the UNISON response.
If you have not already done so, please respond to UNISON by 12noon on Thursday 13th September by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so we have time to prepare a response to WSCC for the following day.
It will help the branch office during this holiday period if members can send in their comments as soon as possible, and not wait until nearer the deadline – though we will accept comments up to the deadline.
We look forward to receiving members’ views and taking these to senior management thereafter.